American Society of Magazine Editors

Best Cover Contest 2012 Winners & Finalists

Cover of the Year|Business & Technology|Celebrity & Entertainment|Health & Fitness
Lifestyle|Men's Interest|Most Delicious|News & Politics|Science & Nature
Sports & Adventure|Women's Interest

Cover of the Year

New York, Oct. 3, 2011: "Is She Just Too Old for This?"
(Photographs by Danny Kim, Photo-Illustration by Darrow)

The editors deliberately chose a model representing the story at its most extreme and photographed her in the pose made iconic by Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair. Her belly was plumped with a prosthetic pillow, then carefully retouched to look real. The over-the-top poster-like cover was meant to stop consumers in their tracks—and it did."





Business & Technology

Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 10-16, 2011 "Steve Jobs 1955-2011" 

(Credit: Getty Images)

The editors’ description of the cover: "Official word of Steve Jobs' death reached Bloomberg Businessweek as the staff of over 40 was finishing a regular issue. They scrapped it and spent all night finalizing this special issue. In choosing a cover, editor Josh Tyrangiel said, ‘what we wanted to find was something that you hadn't seen before, something original, and yet something that had a little bit of tension in it.’ Tyrangiel concludes, ‘I think what we found and the way we cropped it really gets at the complicated, sometimes abrasive genius behind all the products that the world admires.’"


The New Yorker, Oct. 17, 2011: "The Book of Life"
(Illustrator: Barry Blitt)

Sometimes we have weeks or even years to prepare an image for the cover, and sometimes we have barely a few hours. When we learned of Jobs' death, there was so little time we decided to change the cover only if we found something worth it, but Blitt's sketch fit the bill. The great man himself is not shown and the gentle humor pokes fun at him, who, for all his accomplishments, still has to wait at the gate. In an image about cutting-edge technology, the fact that Saint Peter would have been at ease in a Renaissance painting added to the enjoyment.

Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2011: "Who's Behind the Mask?"
(Illustrator: Jamie Chung)

"We wanted an illustration that would bring out the mystique of the Occupy Wall Street movement," says editor Josh Tyrangiel of the art direction for the cover about anti-leader/anthropologist, David Graeber. The magazine also looked for a symbol—so Richard Turley, creative director immediately zeroed in on a mask. Blood-red graffiti-like typography further underscores the movement's sense of drama and urgency.

Celebrity & Entertainment

People, May 16, 2011: "William & Catherine: Love Reigns!"

The editors’ description of the cover: It was the event of the year—the long-awaited wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton—and People delivered 72 pages of coverage in a special issue that went to press the next day. Featuring a shot of the newlyweds taken by a pool photographer on the steps of Westminster Abbey, this bold, impactful People cover captured the joy, excitement and romance of the day—making it a collector's item to be saved and savored by royal fans for the ages."



PEOPLE, April 11, 2011: "Elizabeth Taylor: Farewell to a Legend"
(Photograph by Philippe Halsman)

Time and again, readers turn to People for our take on the defining moments in pop culture—and this year, a major story was the death of one of the greatest movie stars of all time, Elizabeth Taylor. The iconic shot selected for the cover from the archives of famed photographer Philippe Halsman, taken when Taylor was just 16 years old, reminded fans of the beauty and grace that would often become overshadowed by her much-documented, tumultuous personal life. With few words needed, this People cover provided a truly worthy farewell to a legend.

Sports Illustrated, Winter 2011: "Swimsuit 2011"
(Photograph by Bjorn Iooss)

Landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition makes supermodels into pop culture icons. Such was the case this year for Irina Shayk, a Russian beauty whose bronze skin and green eyes have made her a Swimsuit regular since 2007. Credit must also be given to photographer Bjorn Iooss, who snapped the cover photo with the first-ever Sports Illustrated shoot. Iooss' cover shot came one year after his father, Walter Jr., snapped his eleventh Swimsuit cover.

Health & Fitness

Real Simple, May 2011: "Energize Your Life" 
(Photograph by Stephen Lewis)

The editors’ description of the cover: "Wake in a fog at 7 A.M.? Cranky at 3 P.M.? Toss and turn all night? Real Simple's May cover story presents an eye-opening timeline that helps readers get from dawn to dark (and through the valleys in-between) with more pep in their step, and more fuel in their tanks. For the cover, Stephen Lewis photographed an eye-popping bright yellow poppy, brimming with life, sprayed with water bubbles."



ESPN The Magazine, Oct. 17, 2011: "The Body Issue: Hope Solo"
(Photograph by Luis Sanchis)

It was easy to get soccer star Hope Solo focused and intense for the cover shot, as it was right after we had her watering the lawn naked on an empty street for 20 minutes. Each time Solo kicked the (on the scene) soccer ball, photographer Luis Sanchis was in position, poised to capture both the strength of Solo's body and the magnificence of her face. The result was a cover that was intense as it was beautiful and a true celebration of a remarkable body.

New York, Oct. 3, 2011: "Is She Just Too Old for This?"
(Photographs by Danny Kim, Photo-Illustration by Darrow)

The cover image for a story on new parents over 50 was one of the most talked about of the year and almost too successful in its execution—many readers did not realize that it was a photo illustration. The editors deliberately chose a model representing the extremity of the story's idea, and photographed her in the pose made iconic by Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair, her belly was plumped with a prosthetic pillow, then carefully retouched to look real. The over-the-top poster-like cover was meant to stop you in your tracks—and it did.


Martha Stewart Living, Dec. 2011: "Make It a Magical Holiday" 
(Photograph by Dana Gallagher)

The editors’ description of the cover: "Shot on location in Vermont by Dana Gallagher, these hand-crafted stars on a tree were originally inspired by an Arabian star that had been given to craft editor Blake Ramsey when she was a child. The idea was to create our very own "Starry Night," to bring the idea of a celestial midnight sky a little closer to earth. The editors layered different- sized lights to give the starscape a bit of depth, making good on the issue's promise of delivering magic to the holiday season."


National Geographic, July 2011: "Cleopatra"
(Artist: Sam Weber)

How do you put a portrait of Cleopatro, one of history's most famous celebrities, on the cover of National Geographic? Her real face will forever be a mystery, but artist Sam Weber photographed a model who shares Cleopatra's Mediterranean heritage and created a cover image that brings one of history's most alluring figures to life.


Time Out Chicago, June 23-29, 2011:"Pride"
(Art Director: Stephanie Gladney; Photographer: Drew Reynolds)

For this year's annual pride cover, we chose the most iconic gay pride icon—the rainbow flag—and added an artistic, visually arresting twist. By applying the flag to a person's face, we were able to humanize the topic of gay pride. By using a technique that blends the face paint with the background colors, we were able to create a unique and striking photograph. We could have done everything in Photoshop, but to give it a more authentic, less retouched feel, we shot the model with his face painted and standing in front of the background. Some retouching was required, but we maintained the texture of skin under the makeup that makes the face really pop.

Men's Interest

GQ, Aug. 2011: "Mila Kunis" 

(Photograph by Terry Richardson)

The editors’ description of the cover: "Just open the August 2011 issue and you'll find Mila Kunis looking sultry and super-sexy. But for the cover, we kept coming back to an off-the-cuff moment caught by Terry Richardson: her sipping an iced coffee, giant grin on her face, a bit of midriff exposed, eyes flashing. On the newsstands, surrounded by the usual array of too-perfect, too-posed beauties, her GQ cover is a total surprise; it has this immediacy, it feels new. That's because Mila looks exactly like herself here: authentic, exuberant, teasing, bold, utterly at ease and absurdly, mind-meltingly gorgeous. Iced coffee never looked so hot."


Parade, July 3, 2011: "Grill, Baby, Grill"
(Photograph by Stephanie Rausser)

Stand back! When America's gutsiest grillmeister, Guy Fieri, broke out a blow-torch to blast a hunk of meat on this cover, he lived out the dreams of every backyard pit boss we know. And to ensure that readers' meals lived up to their fire-stoked fantasies, PARADE presented a Summer Eating Guide inside that was packed with enough grilling tips, techniques, and recipes to satisfy the hungriest hordes.

GQ, Jan. 2011: "Ryan Gosling"
(Photograph by Mario Testino)

Nobody embodied 2011 Leading Man more than the brash and enormously talented Ryan Gosling. In a way, we predicted his moment: Coming off a powerful performance in the indie film Blue Valentine, he had yet to fully display his range—in a comedy (Crazy, Stupid, Love), a political drama (The Ides of March), and a controversial action film (Drive) that captures the slow-boil sexiness he brings to every role. Gosling is a throwback to an old-school stardom, one that prized relaxed confidence and elegance, which is why we paired him with Mario Testino, the classiest photographer around.

Most Delicious

Everyday Food, Summer 2011: "Summer Made Easy" 

(Photograph by Con Poulos)

The editors’ description of the cover: "The luminous fruit pop on the cover of Everyday Food's ‘Summer Made Easy’ special edition makes a bold statement and sets the tone for an issue full of fresh, fun content. The graphic, colorful image speaks clearly to the mission of the magazine: Everyday Food is the handbook for home cooks, and in every issue we present familiar ingredients—fruit, in this case—in enticing new ways. The cover was photographed by Con Poulos on a light box, without shadow or embellishment, for an image as cool as the taste of an ice pop on a hot summer day."


Saveur, April 2011: "The Sandwich Issue"
(Photograph by Michael Kraus)

At Saveur we believe that every food, no matter how humble, is worthy of serious contemplation, and yet the subject of sandwiches seemed to lend itself naturally to a spirit of whimsy. Our first-ever issue devoted entirely to the sandwich in its many global iterations—from Vietnamese bahn mi to the all-American BLT—begins with studio photographer Michael Kraus's awe-inspiring photograph of the every-sandwich: two multilayered towers of bread and fillings straight from the hungry imagination of the comic book character Dagwood Bumstead. Stuffed with everything from pickles to sprouts, it's an iconic representation of a universally adored food.

Texas Monthly, Dec. 2011: "Breakfast!"
(Photograph by Randal Ford)

No matter if you call them "griddle cakes," "flapjacks," or "pancakes," they all mean the same thing: "delicious!" How could we not feature the most important meal of the day on our cover? This stack of Pecan Praline Griddle Cakes from Maxine's on Main, in Bastrop, Texas, fit the bill of being a perfect breakfast, with a wink and a nudge to Texas in a well-shaped pat of butter. Photographer Randal Ford and food stylist Paige Erin Fletcher went out to Maxine's to work their magic and came back with a mouthwatering image and full stomachs.

News & Politics

American Photo, Sept./Oct. 2011: "09.11.01" 
(Photograph by Yoni Brook)

The editors’ description of the cover: "American Photo has devoted the heart of its September/October issue to an 18-page oral history of 9/11/01 based on the recollections of the photographers who risked their lives to cover the story. Though there was no shortage of iconic images we could have used, in this case, we felt less was more. The somber black and white image (shot by NYU student Yoni Brook) projected a reflective calm and quiet emblematic of the story we were telling. After much internal discussion, we opted to remove all cover lines apart from the minimalist one you see here."



PEOPLE, Sept. 12, 2011: "The Children of 9/11"
(Photograph by Nigel Parry)

As the nation stopped to remember the tragedy of 9/11, People marked the 10th anniversary with a more hopeful note. For the fourth time, People told the stories of ten children and their moms, who were pregnant when their husbands died on 9/11; ten years on, there was still sadness but also joy, both grief and triumph over tragedy. The families gathered at a Manhattan studio—poignantly on Father's Day—for portraits taken by Nigel Parry. The cover image, of 9-year-old Lauren McIntyre holding a pendant with her father's photo, simply, and powerfully, capture the children's legacy of love.

Vanity Fair, July 2011: "Prince William and Kate"
(Photograph by Mario Testino)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge peer joyfully from the cover of Vanity Fair's July 2011 issue in an exclusive outtake from Mario Testino's engagement portrait shoot. The overwhelming international interest in the newlyweds made them highly worthy cover subjects and emblems of British monarchy renewed. Vanity Fair pulled off a royal coup in obtaining this never-before released photograph.

Science & Nature

OnEarth, March 2011: "Arctic Fever"
(Photo Illustration by Tia Magallon)

The editors’ description of the cover: "This provocative photo illustration by Tia Magallon for our ‘Arctic Fever’ cover story addresses the environmental disruptions caused by climate change. One such consequence: melting sea ice is dissolving the natural barrier between two bear species, the polar and the grizzly, for the first time in 10,000 years. Indeed, there has been evidence of their interbreeding. So ‘fever’ refers both to rising Arctic temperatures--a symptom of an unhealthy environment—as well as a droll nod to these bears' amorous fever."



National Geographic, March 2011: "Designing the Perfect Pet"
(Photograph by Greg Schneider)

It is arguably the most extraordinary breeding experiment ever conducted. Researchers in Novosibirsk, Siberia, began, in 1959, an attempt to untangle connections between DNA and behavior by breeding foxes to encourage friendliness toward humans—much as dogs have been domesticated. Over generations the foxes have developed many traits that distinguish dogs from wild canids, including licking humans and wagging their tails. The mysterious expression on the face of National Geographic's March 2011 cover fox, captured by Greg Schneider, caught the editor's eye—and the eyes of readers: It's somewhere in the netherworld between wild and domestic.

Parade, July 31, 2011: "Cats vs. Dogs"
(Photograph by Brooke Jacobs)

They're not Lunt and Fontanne. Or Burton and Taylor. Or even Tom and Jerry. But orange mixed-breed cat Peaches and bulldog Roberta have that same sort of indefinable chemistry—the chatty tabby may be telling him off, but the big lug is clearly no pushover—making them the perfect pair to pose for our cover story about which species is superior. Disclaimer: No animals were harmed during this shoot; the models are real-life roomies.

Sports & Adventure

National Geographic, May 2011: "Above Yosemite" 
(Photograph by Jimmy Chin)

The editors’ description of the cover : "Doing what they do may seem extreme enough, but to photograph Yosemite climbers, including Alex Honnold edging face-out along the Thank God Ledge on Half Dome (because ‘it's cooler that way’), is another whole ball of equipment. Photographer Jimmy Chin, who makes a living creating images of climbers all over the world, said: ‘At the end of the day, if I got one photo that I felt truly captured Yosemite climbing, that would make me happy.’ He got one—and it landed on the cover of National Geographic in May 2011."



Garden & Gun, Dec. 2011/Jan. 2012:"Best of the Sporting South"
(Photograph by Andy Anderson)

For a sportsman, a dog is more than just a companion. He's a co-worker, a protector, an invaluable pathfinder. So who better to represent our sporting South cover package than a great dog at work in the field—a guide for a guide. Andy Anderson traveled to Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi, to photograph Mike Stewart's exceptional retriever in action. Deke, a British Labrador retriever who also happens to be the Ducks Unlimited mascot, was a natural and this shot was an easy pick. Even dirty and smelly with a wet and ruffled coat, he exudes the intelligence and gentility of a true sportsman.

Sports Illustrated, July 25, 2011:"Hope Solo"
(Credit: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

"Heart and Heartbreak" describes the U.S. women's national team's performance at the 2011 Women's World Cup, where they came back in stunning fashion versus Brazil in the quaterfinals before twice surrendering leads against Japan in an epic final. "The U.S. had just lost one of the greatest games ever played, and the emotions of that are complicated," says editor Terry McDonell. "It's reflected in the cover shot of Hope Solo, a nuanced mix of sadness and courage. She is looking back, thinking what might have been, but she is also looking to the future,"

Women's Interest

Real Simple, Jan. 2011: "Be Happier This Year" 
(Photograph by Christopher Griffith)

The editors’ description of the cover: "What is happiness? Am I actually happy? Real Simple's January cover story presents an up-close look at this elusive emotion—the history, science and art of happiness, and the secrets to feeling more of it. The sunflower on the cover, photographed by Christopher Griffith against a soft blue sky, instantly boosts your endorphins before you even read the story."



Departures, Sept. 2011: "Wild and Wonderful Things"
(Photography by Rodney Smith)

After four location scouts, three rounds of model-casting calls, two evening shoots and a final behind-the-scenes shoot at The American Museum of Natural History in New York, we were quite excited by the completion of this epic fashion portfolio by renowned photographer Rodney Smith. The image we chose for the cover closely evoked Avedon's iconic portrait of Dovima. It carried the perfect attitude, grace and sense of wonderment to be worthy of a cover entitled, "Where the Wild and Wonderful Things Are."

W, Sept. 2011: "The Fashion Issue"
(Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott)

For W's biggest fashion issue of the year, the magazine celebrated the ways women today transform themselves by showcasing actress Kristen Stewart as readers had never seen her before. Photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot transformed the 21-year-old cover model from the Twilight teenager that audiences know best into the glamorous, grown-up vixen she's becoming. "Vampires are a little dangerous—and we girls like to test ourselves," Stewart says playfully on the cover, tempting readers to pick up the issue and see for themselves.